Thursday, July 31, 2008

Togo Chasm!

Day 2 of exploring Niue by car! We drove over to the more rugged East coast of the island and explored a couple of smaller 'sea tracks' down to the reef. Then we parked and hiked in for a half hour to Togo Chasm. The first part was a walk through the forest on a fairly good trail. But this was no forest we've ever seen before. The woods were thick with deciduous trees and ferns, along with the occasional coconut grove. At our feet, we walked on a thick bed of leaves but under this thin layer
of rotting vegetation is coral. And if you look off the trail to the side, you see large jagged lumps of coral everywhere among the vegetation. And the only life seems to be the tiny lizards that dart off the path as you walk. Very few birds and nothing else! The canopy almost blocked out the sun. At the end of the forest trail, the view opened up to the pinnacles of coral with huge crevasses running among them. But the locals had made a trail among them and you could pick your way down with
the occasional rope to help you descend. And half way down, you looked into a chasm at an oasis, complete with sand and palm trees, completed surrounded by high dark cliffs. A sturdy ladder dropped about 50 feet straight down to the bottom where you could scramble among the jumble of coral pieces into small caves that led to the ocean. Here, on the windy side of the island, the surf pounded in and exploded up the cliffs. It was quite impressive really!
On the way back we stopped in a small village and drove down to the water where we donned snorkelling gear and swam out to an opening in the reef. Lots of fish and we saw quite a large sea snake, black and yellow banded, and apparently one of the most venomous in the world! The locals assured us they were not aggressive though but watching it swim by about twenty feet below me was still a little unnerving.
Ice cream cones at the local video rental store, beers at the yacht club, showers down by the dock and back on board. Last night one of the whales was back. In the middle of the night I could hear it grunting and snorting and blowing about a boat's length away from us. It was dark with no moon but I could see the white on its flippers and tail.
The weekly plane flies in and out tomorrow (Friday) so Thursday night is beer and sausages night at the yacht club. The handful of tourist on the island, most of which we have met in our exploring with undoubtedly by there. We've requested lamb sausages if possible!
Meanwhile the sun is shining and there is a nice breeze blowing from the East so we are starting to think about the last 250 miles West to Tonga!

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